[INDOLOGY] Ears of the Buddha

Andrew Nicholson andrew.nicholson at stonybrook.edu
Thu Dec 30 22:42:20 UTC 2021

Dear colleagues,

I've been asked to review some scripts for an educational website, and in
their presentation of Buddhism they spend an inordinate amount of time (in
my opinion) on the Buddha's earlobes. Describing a Gupta period statue,
they write:

"His earlobes are very long to remind us that he grew up wearing heavy
earrings. . . Siddhartha was born a prince, and the artist depicted him as
having long earlobes to remind us that he gave up his wealth, including
heavy jewelry, on his journey to reach enlightenment."

I've seen this claim before. My question: is there any pre-modern text that
describes his ears in these specific terms, or is it a modern

I'm familiar with lists of the 80 minor marks of the Buddha's body that
include "ample and long ears" (pīnāyata-karṇau). But are his long ears
thanks to his formerly wearing earrings, or was he born that way as he was
with his long tongue, lump on his cranium, sheathed penis, etc.?

Thanks, and happy new year!


*Andrew J. Nicholson, Ph.D. *(he/him)
Associate Professor, Asian and Asian American Studies
Director, History of Philosophies East and West M.A. Program
Director, Minor in South Asian Studies
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY 11794-5343  USA
(631) 632-4030
Virtual office hours meeting room: https://stonybrook.zoom.us/j/7495611341
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